Exchange Students Arrive Despite COVID Restrictions: Stoil Bozhkov

Bozhkov+smiles+next+to+the+Trinity+Rock+during+his+first+time+on+campus.+He+arrived+two+weeks+before+the+first+day+and+was+excited+to+finally+be+on+campus.

Courtesy of Stoil Bozhkov

Bozhkov smiles next to the Trinity Rock during his first time on campus. He arrived two weeks before the first day and was excited to finally be on campus.

SARAH ZEHNDER, STAFF WRITER

   New ASSIST student Stoil Bozhkov, after a similarly long application process, is happy to be settled into a school 5,593 miles away from his hometown in Novi Han, Bulgaria. for the next 10 months.

   Bozhkov is staying with the Polsinelli family. His host brothers are eighth grader Nikolas Polsinelli and seventh grader Oliver Polsinelli. Bozhkov is a junior at Trinity.

   “I joined ASSIST because I wanted to see a different world and learn more about American culture and more about myself,” Bozhkovsaid. “Additionally, I wanted to develop my English skills by communicating with native speakers.”

   This is Bozhkov’s first time visiting the United States. He is from a small town outside Sofia, Bulgaria, called Novi Han. In Novi Han, Bozhkov speaks English with his peers at his school, however he said he has enhanced his English skills since coming to Florida.

   “I speak English fluently but of course it depends on the topic,” he said. “I usually speak [English] everyday with one of my friends from Bulgaria in order to practice it.”

   Bozhkov was not worried about Florida’s COVID-19 case status before moving here. However, he said the pandemic did make the application process a little longer and more difficult. Bozhkov’s application process consisted of a series of emails, several interviews, many forms, and months of waiting.

   “It was a very long process, especially now with the coronavirus,” Bozhkov said. This was very challenging, but I’m here!”

   According to Bozhkov, his home town in Bulgaria follows very similar COVID-19 safety procedures that require masks and social distancing. When he came to Trinity, he was not surprised by Trinity’s guidelines.

   However, after only one month, Bozhkov already sees differences between his public school in Bulgaria and Trinity. He said he was astonished by the people, the educational system and everyday school life.

   For instance, at Trinity, Bozhkov was pleasantly surprised that he could choose his own courses. The school he attends in Bulgaria doesn’t provide that option. He enjoys performance-based classes like choir and acting.

   “Acting II [is] my favorite class because it is interesting because it’s different from everything I’ve done in Bulgaria,” Bozhkov said. “I can express myself in some way.”

   As well as acting, Bozhkov is interested in many fine arts including piano, chess, and he is also a thespian. Aside from the arts, Bozhkov practicipates in many sports like swimming , tennis, and soccer.

   “I’m interested in a lot of things, I could talk for days,” he said.

   With the guidance of his host family. Bozhkov has already visited many places around central Florida with a few months.

   “My host family are very adventurous people, they take me almost everywhere,” he said, “We recently went to Gwatorland, different restaurants in the area, and we have been to escape rooms.”

   During his time in Florida and at Trinity, Bozhkov hopes to fully immerse himself in the American high school experience.